Directed by: Jalmari Helander
Distributed by: Nordisk Film
Written by Alexander Reams
The don’t-mess with-that-old-man genre is an excellent way for past stars to jumpstart their career, Stephen Lang had “Don’t Breathe,” Keanu Reeves had “John Wick(s),” and now veteran Finnish actor Jorma Tommila offers his, “Sisu.” Writer/Director Jalmari Helander combines the grindhouse aspects and historical context of “Inglorious Basterds” with the sheer brutality, steadfast resolve, and silence of “Brawl in Cell Block 99.” Set in 1944 Finland amidst the Finnish army removing the Nazis, Tommila’s Aatami Korpi lives a solitary life as he searches for gold, he is grayed and wounded, but manages to find treasure. So begins a journey to cash in.
Most of “Sisu” is focused on Korpi’s journey and his obstacles, notably those pesky Nazis and their affinity for the shiny objects he carries on horseback to the bank. He runs into one group without a problem, but when he is stopped by a second he is accosted, and forced into a kill-or-be-killed situation. This is framed wonderfully by cinematographer Kjell Lagerroos against the vivid color-grading and deep focus used to build tension until Korpi attacks the soldiers. The sequence has been featured in the press for its brutality and blunt nature. He defends himself and brings about the attention of the commander of the first group, Bruno Helldorf (Aksel Hennie), a pulpy villain with enough ham to serve a family at Christmas and is the perfect antagonist for the meticulous and tactful Korpi.
“Sisu” is another dad-core film that will play perfectly on Father’s Day, but underneath there isn’t much, and for a film with so much historical meat, it feels like it’s not as fleshed out as it should be. For instance, the subplot of abducted women is never given the focus it deserves. For a film so focused on the idea of earning, it seems shallow that there are significant parts of the film going against that. However, “Sisu” knows exactly why you bought a ticket, and it delivers as advertised. The action is brilliant and the colors are vivid, it’s a fun time despite the faults.
You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.